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Posts Tagged ‘#preK’

State House

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

The State House is seeing a flurry of activity as the 2021-2022 legislative session winds down.

On Monday the Legislature passed a state budget with major investments in early education and care.

Legislators continue their work this week to finalize an economic development bill that could include additional funding for early education.

Early education and care legislation is still pending, awaiting action in the House.

On July 7, 2022, the Massachusetts Senate took a bold step forward by voting unanimously to pass An Act to expand access to high-quality, affordable early education and care (S.2973). But to become law, it will also need to be approved by the House before the end of this month.

The Common Start Coalition continues to lead advocacy for the bill’s passage. Visit Common Start for the latest advocacy updates. (Strategies for Children serves on the Common Start steering committee). Let your state representative know about the Senate bill, and encourage them to pass a similar bill in the House.

This promising bill provides a strong framework for tackling many of the persistent challenges that the field faced long before the pandemic started.

The bill would put Massachusetts on a path toward establishing a system of affordable and high-quality early education and care for families. The bill also calls for providing more support for early educators.

Senate President Karen Spilka provides details here.

The need is great. As Mark Reilly, the Vice President of Policy & Government Relations at Jumpstart, points out, “Massachusetts is 40th in the nation in state investment in early education and we are pleased to see that the Legislature is poised to drive the state up those rankings.”

Massachusetts can build on the pending investments in the state budget by passing a historic bill that charts a long-term course for bolstering our early education and care system.

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“Mayor Michelle Wu today announced a $20 million investment in early education through Boston’s Universal Pre-K (UPK) program, a partnership between BPS [Boston Public Schools] and the Office of Early Childhood. This investment builds on Mayor Wu’s commitment to universal, affordable, high-quality early education and care for all infants, toddlers, and children under five.”

“For the second year in a row, Boston UPK will increase the number of seats available to both 3- and 4-year-olds at community-based providers. Specifically, UPK will now offer up to 992 seats at community providers, with up to 627 seats for 4-year-olds and up to 365 seats for 3-year-olds.“

“ ‘The greatest investment we can make in our future is to support and center our young people,’ said Mayor Michelle Wu. ‘With this historic investment in early childhood education, we can kickstart an increase in high-quality Pre-K seats, bring family child care providers into the UPK network, and ensure all of our families have access to free and accessible early childcare and education.’ ”

“Mayor Wu Announces $20 million investment to expand Boston’s universal pre-K program,” Boston Mayor’s Office, July 6, 2022

See also: “Boston to spend $20 million to expand pre-K program,” by Stephanie Ebbert and Adria Watson, The Boston Globe, July 6, 2022

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“The School Committee has approved a School Department budget that invests significant funding into schools, including paving the way for expansion of preschool classes to every elementary school in the district, an history making development for Springfield Public Schools.

“ ‘This is a monumental development for our community and something that we’ve been working towards for years,’ said Superintendent of Schools Daniel Warwick. ‘To have the ability to provide a pre-school foundation for our students before they start kindergarten is going to greatly influence their readiness and really help to set our youngest students up for academic success right from the start.’

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Screenshot: Springfield Public Schools Instagram page.

“In addition to securing preschool classes in every elementary school, the preschool expansion includes the development of a new preschool-only school at 111 Seymour Avenue, which currently houses the administration of the Springfield Virtual School. The School Committee’s approval of the FY23 budget sets the stage for Springfield Public Schools to become the first district in the Commonwealth to provide free, universal full-day preschool for 3- and 4- year old students.”

“School Committee adopts $545 million budget,” City News release, May 6, 2022 

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Screenshot: National Women’s Law Center report

The pandemic is receding, but its effects have taken a dire economic toll on women, a new report from the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) explains.

The report — Resilient But Not Recovered: After Two Years of the COVID-19 Crisis, Women Are Still Struggling — draws on polling data and on “federal data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau… to reveal how women are really faring at work and in their lives after two years of a punishing pandemic,” NWLC says on its website

The results are grim. Women – especially women of color – have experienced more job loss than men, and they are earning lower wages than men.

The report’s specific findings include:

• “more than two-thirds of the net jobs lost since the pandemic began are women’s jobs”

• “while men have returned to their pre-pandemic labor force size, over 1.1 million fewer women are in the labor force today than in February of 2020”

• “Latinas’ unemployment rate was still 4.8 percent in February 2022, 1.6 times the rate for white men (3.0 percent)”

• “Black women’s unemployment was still 6.1 percent in February 2022, more than double the rate for white men (3.0 percent) and more than a full percentage point above Black women’s pre-pandemic unemployment rate in February 2020 (4.8 percent),” and

• “58 percent of women overall—including 75 percent of women who lost or quit a job during the pandemic, and 63 percent of women in low-paid jobs—said that the COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on their mental health”

The child care profession has also been hit hard, losing “one in nine jobs (11.7%)” since the start of the pandemic.

The report also includes women’s voices, among them:

(more…)

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Mayor Martin Walsh greets kids on the playground after the Universal Pre-K announcement at ABCD Head Start Walnut Grove. (Mayor’s Office Photo by John Wilcox)

 

Yesterday, at the ABCD Head Start Walnut Grove program in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood, Mayor Marty Walsh announced that the City of Boston is investing $15 million to expand access to free, high-quality pre-K.

“ ‘This is a game-changer for the young people of our city,’ Walsh said Tuesday, surrounded by school administrators and representatives from community groups set to partner with the city to fully implement pre-K programming,” the Boston Globe reports.

The funding will support the “Quality Pre-K Fund,” which will guarantee equitable access “for all 4-year-olds living in Boston within five years,” a press release explains.

The Quality Pre-K Fund will “support the creation of 750 high-quality seats in the nationally recognized pre-K programs in Boston Public Schools (BPS) and in community-based organizations, such as ABCD Head Start, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCA, and many others,” the press release says, adding, “When Mayor Walsh took office, the gap of high-quality pre-K classroom seats stood at 1,500, and over the last six years this number has been cut in half.” (more…)

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“When you think of America’s western mountain states, what comes to mind? Wide, open spaces? Majestic peaks? Infinite blue skies? Pervasive lack of investment in pre-K?”

“Five states—Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Wyoming—still do not provide any state funding towards pre-K. And all but one of the five are in the mountainous west.”

“This region’s failure to act on pre-K may be accounted for by a combination of the following factors:

• Political and cultural values that put an emphasis on libertarian ideals of government

• Low percentage of children in single-parent households

• Low poverty rates

• Low population density

“While none of these factors alone can explain these states’ lack of investment in pre-K, taken together, they may help to describe the unique environment that exists there—one that lends itself to inaction when it comes to pre-K.”

“One Part of the Country Still Doesn’t Invest in Pre-K. Here’s Why.” By David Loewenberg, New America Weekly, October 20, 2016

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Teacher Jana Dunlap works with Grace Marder, 4, to come up with adjectives to describe a leaf the child found on a nature walk outside the Early Childhood Center in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Photo: Lillian Mongeau. Photo: The Hechinger Report

Teacher Jana Dunlap works with Grace Marder, 4, to come up with adjectives to describe a leaf the child found on a nature walk outside the Early Childhood Center in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Photo: Lillian Mongeau, The Hechinger Report

 

“Oklahomans have embraced free, universal early education — and it’s working,” the title of a story from the Hechinger Report declares. (Hechinger is an independent, nonprofit, education news outlet.)

Posted on PBS NewsHour’s website, the story focuses on Clinton, Okla.

“One of the biggest employers in this hardscrabble working class town in western Oklahoma is the Bar-S Foods Company meat packing plant, where many of the city’s 9,500 residents work. Clinton also boasts a Route 66 Museum, a somewhat epic indoor waterpark, and free universal preschool for every 4-year-old in town.

“Ninety-one percent of the town’s 170 4-year-olds enroll in a public program annually, said Tyler Bridges, the assistant school superintendent. About 140 attend the state-supported district preschool while another 15 or so attend the local Cheyenne-Arapahoe Head Start program.” (more…)

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